The latest quarterly report shows business confidence has slumped in the Hunter.
The NSW Business Chamber's Business Conditions Survey for the December quarter shows confidence across the state and here in the Hunter has taken a hit due to the combined impact of bushfires (survey period preceding the deterioration of conditions in late December and January), drought and weak household demand.
Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said while the Hunter had avoided the worst of the bushfires, the economic impact of the fires was still significant in some parts of the region, exacerbating business downturns brought on by prolonged drought.
“Even before the fires hit, we were receiving feedback that the ripple effect of drought was being felt across main streets in rural townships and, in fact, right down the valley to Newcastle,” Bob Hawes said.
“The fires resulted in a lot of lost tourism trade and booking cancellations, because people opted to stay at home, and our vineyards are looking at a major loss of crop due to smoke taint, which will have a significant impact on an industry worth more than $500million to our region.”
Weak household demand is hurting business, with respondents’ perceptions of the performance of the economy down, and indicators such as staffing and capital spending also falling sharply.
“This time of year normally offers a welcome boost to business trade but conditions have moved in the opposite direction.” Bob Hawes said.
“We are fortunate in our area to have export and manufacturing industries with broad national and international markets, which have more capacity to weather the regional downturn."
“However, we do encourage people to get behind our businesses by buying local, because our communities depend on them for employment and economic opportunity.”
The Hunter Business Chamber is also encouraging businesses in the Hunter to get behind the NSW Business Chamber's ‘Backing the bush’ campaign which is a website where companies and organisations of all sizes can pledge their promise to hold a board, management or staff meeting in one of the affected areas between now and the end of 2020.
Image credit: Grant Broadcasters/Jessica Rouse